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Poll: Anti-Immigration Stands May Rally Florida Latino Voters

November 1, 2010

MIAMI, Fla. - New polls show Latino voters in Florida and across the country are "more enthusiastic" about going to the polls Tuesday, in part rallied by anti-immigration stands by candidates like Rick Scott and Marco Rubio.

Hector Figueroa, secretary-treasurer of the Service Employees International Union-32BJ, representing more than 120,000 janitorial, security, and other building service workers, says that almost 60 percent of Latino voters now say they are "very enthusiastic" about voting, up from 41 percent on September 6, according to the latest Latino Decisions tracking poll.

"There is a strong sentiment that those behind the Arizona law have been able to place candidates in strategic elections, and their election would be quite detrimental to our community. So in some ways it has galvanized attention. And Latinos want to be there at the polls and be counted."

Figueroa says while there are undocumented workers in Florida, immigration reform is not just about undocumented workers.

"Latinos have been portrayed in negative ways as not really part of our community, or taking away jobs, when in fact, the Latino community has been in this country for a very long time. Different views on immigration should not translate into an attack on the Latino community."

Figueroa says Latinos have been hard hit by the recession, and on Election Day, union volunteers will be calling members to get out the vote in what he calls a crucial election.

"The mid-term election will set the tone for how policy will be done in our country for the next two years, and I think it's important for Latinos not to sit out this election. Really, we can be an important element in what the outcome is."

Figueroa says in 2008, the Latino vote helped propel into office candidates who support policies that are important to working families,like health care, education and a fair immigration system. He says recent polls show Latino voters are leaning towards Democratic candidates, but the real poll that matters is on Tuesday.

Gina Presson , Public News Service - FL